First student-organized cannabis conference aims to educate the public about medical marijuana
In an effort to highlight the current scientific data surrounding medical marijuana by world-class researchers, scientists and physicians, the first Green Wolverine Science Symposium took place Saturday at the Ross School of Business — ending precisely at 4:20 p.m.
Student organization Green Wolverine arranged lectures and panel discussions where speakers debated the professional study of THC and CBD, the active chemical ingredients in marijuana. Speakers were given time to explain their research and sit in on panel discussions where audience members asked their own questions in response.
Green Wolverine President Abigail Kennedy, a Business senior, emphasized the informative role the organization plays and how this event was created to educate students and community members about scientific features of cannabis.
Kennedy also stressed, even if marijuana is not legalized in Michigan at the midterms it is still important to have knowledge of the industry. Voters will decide on a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 years or older in November.
“Whether or not Michigan legalizes in the near future, it is still something that is very pertinent to America as a whole and its economy,” Kennedy said. “And understanding the medical side of it is really important because knowing all of those very scientific components of legalization is very helpful in the ‘B’ school or getting into the industry at large. And if you don’t understand the scientific side of cannabis, you can’t fully apply it in a morally ethical way.”
Responding to a previous Daily editorial column that labeled the organization members as activists, Kennedy says that she would not classify Green Wolverine as politically motivated. She says Green Wolverine is focused on the dissemination of knowledge about the topic, not trying to persuade the public one way or another.
“I wouldn’t call this activism at all. One of the core values of Green Wolverine is that we are non-political,” Kennedy said. “That’s something that we do in order to secure our legitimacy as a club because we don’t want to dissuade people who are on one side of the sensor or another. Our main objective is to educate. That’s why this event is so focused on research.”
During the panel discussions, LSA senior Tim Mladenovic asked about the difference between the two marijuana strains, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, prevalent on college campuses. Mladenovic inquired about the difference between the two strains and asserted terms should be unified to encourage for scientific study.
“The actual taxonomy classifies indica and sativa completely differently based on the hemp plant and the drug,” Mladenovic said. “If the plant wants to actually be researched, we should all be talking about the same terminology. We should all be on the same page.”
Panelist Daniele Piomelli, director of the Institute for the Study of Cannabis and professor at the University of California, Irvine’s School of Medicine, argued there is no difference between the two strands.
“We know from a genetic perspective that sativa and indica are one, and only one, species. So what are sativa and indica? Marketing. Marketing tools,” Piomelli said.
Piomelli talked about the significant overlap between the two strains and the possibility there may be a placebo effect, but maintained there is no scientific data to prove the differences that are claimed by dispensaries.
“I’m not denying that people experience different things,” Piomelli said. “In part, there is very strong psychological aspect to it, and there might be some differences in the smell, the texture, the taste, just like two different wines. But at the end of the day, if you have a glass of Pinot or glass of Cabernet, the high comes from the alcohol.”
Evangelos Litinas, the chief medical officer at Om of Medicine, a cannabis provisioning center in Ann Arbor, said he wants the public to know more the effects of cannabis.
“The level and quality of information here is stellar, and it is important to have these types of meetings so the community, the professionals and the patients get legitimate, actual information,” Litinas said. “Especially because of Nov. 6, it is important to get people to realize what cannabis is, how to really use it and how it can actually help the people of Michigan. An educated patient is the best patient, and this is the best format to do that.”
Kennedy said she hopes becomes an annual and wants to be a part of the culture that encourages students to stay informed about all issues on campus.
“On Nov. 6, people are going to vote to legalize recreationally in Michigan,” Kennedy said. “And if they’re not educated on the subject, how are they going to know how to vote? It doesn’t matter if they vote yes or no, it just matters that they are informed.”